J.S. Giguere helps Maple Leafs win their first home opener since 2000 against Canadiens

Note: We probably won’t recap regular season games individually very often, but this is Hockey Christmas so I thought I’d touch on the two early games separately. Expect a recap post for the 10:00 PM ET games tomorrow morning, though.

gigueregame1.jpgWhile a lot of the pressure is on Carey Price in Montreal, the 2010-11 season is a huge one for a nearly forgotten goalie by the name of J.S. Giguere. Things have been rocky for the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winner ever since he raised the silver chalice, but if he ever needed motivation to rekindle his old magic, how about a contract year?

So far, so good, as Jiggy’s strong goatending powered the Maple Leafs to their first win in a home opener since 2000.

Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Montreal Canadiens 2

Carey Price struggled a bit to begin the game, at least on paper, allowing two in the first period. (I say he struggled because any goals that go in will be over-analyzed in hockey crazed Montreal.) Giguere did indeed top him, though, stopping 25 of 27 shots, including a late flurry from the Habs in the third period.

Tim Brent, Phil Kessel and Altanta arbitration reject Clarke MacArthur scored Toronto’s three goals while Dustin Boyd and Jeff Halpern scored for the Canadiens.

Here are some interesting points from the Associated Press recap.

It was a typically tight game between the longtime rivals, who needed overtime to decide five of six meetings last season. That included the opener, in which Montreal tied it late before pulling out a 4-3 win in extra time.

Only six Leafs players who played in that game were on the ice for this one – a sign of the massive overhaul general manager Brian Burke constructed over the last year.

MacArthur, one of the new faces, scored the eventual winner. He made a nice play to beat defenseman Jaroslav Spacek before putting a nice backhander behind Carey Price at 1:36 of the third period.

Hopefully people aren’t too high in Toronto or too low in Montreal, but don’t be surprised. It’s the nature of these puck-obsessed markets, after all.

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    PHT’s 2017 NHL Draft Tracker

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    From the United Center in Chicago, it’s the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft!

    Click back here throughout the night for all the latest picks, complete with draft profiles, stories and video from tonight’s broadcast on NBCSN.

    1. New Jersey Devils: Nico Hischier center, QMJHL Halifax (profile)

    More: Hischier not caught up in ‘Nico vs. Nolan’ hype

    2. Philadelphia Flyers: Nolan Patrick center, WHL Brandon (profile)

    More: ‘The media’s pumping it down’ — Patrick rejects notion of weak draft class

    3. Dallas Stars: Miro Heiskanen, defenseman, HIFK Finland (profile)

    4. Colorado Avalanche: Cale Makar, defenseman, AJHL Brooks (profile)

    More: D-man Makar makes for compelling prospect

    5. Vancouver Canucks: Elias Pettersson, center, SHL Timra IK

    6. Vegas Golden Knights: Cody Glass, center, WHL Portland

    7. New York Rangers (from Arizona): Lias Andersson, center, SHL HV71

    8. Buffalo Sabres: Casey Mittelstadt, center, Eden Prairie HS (profile)

    More: Mittelstadt has no regrets after chasing Minnesota high school title

    9. Detroit Red Wings: Michael Rasmussen, center, WHL Tri-City

    10. Florida Panthers: Owen Tippett, RW, OHL Mississauga (profile)

    11. Los Angeles Kings: Gabriel Vilardi, C, OHL Windsor (profile)

    More: Gabriel Vilardi deserves your attention

    12. Carolina Hurricanes: Martin Necas, center, Czech League Brno

    13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg): Nick Suzuki, center, OHL Owen Sound

    14. Tampa Bay Lightning: Cal Foote, defenseman, WHL Kelowna

    15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NY Islanders)
    16. Calgary Flames
    17. Toronto Maple Leafs
    18. Boston Bruins
    19. San Jose Sharks
    20. St. Louis Blues
    21. New York Rangers
    22. Edmonton Oilers
    23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota)
    24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus via Vegas)
    25. Montreal Canadiens
    26. Chicago Blackhawks
    27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington)
    28. Ottawa Senators
    29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim)
    30. Nashville Predators
    31. Pittsburgh Penguins

    Cody Glass becomes Vegas’ first-ever draft pick

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    Cody Glass became part of history on Friday night.

    Glass, the No. 6 ranked North American skater from WHL Portland, became the first-ever draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights, who took him sixth overall at the United Center in Chicago.

    A 6-foot-2 center that was named the Winterhawks’ MVP this season, Glass has drawn comparisons to Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele. He put up a stunning 94 points in 64 games this season, and is regarded as one of the finest offensive talents in the Western League.

    While Glass is the first-ever pick for the Knights, he’ll soon have some company. GM George McPhee stockpiled a pair of additional first-round picks at Wednesday’s expansion draft — No. 13 and 15 respectively — meaning Vegas could walk away from tonight with a boatload of young, enticing prospects.

    After meteoric rise up rankings, Makar goes fourth overall to Avs

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    For all the talk about Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick, at least one NHL scout believes Cale Makar is the best prospect in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

    The Colorado Avalanche sure hope that scout is right after they picked Makar fourth overall Friday at United Center.

    The 18-year-old defenseman has experienced a meteoric rise up the rankings the past year. In the process, he’s drawn tantalizing comparisons to Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, who just happens to be Makar’s favorite player.

    Makar didn’t even play in Canada’s top junior league last season. He’s a member of the Brooks Bandits, part of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In that way, he’s a bit like another Ottawa player, Kyle Turris, who got drafted third overall in 2007 out of the BCHL.

    Makar had 24 goals and 51 assists in 75 games for the Bandits in 2016-17.

    “I don’t know if it matters what league he plays in,” Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said earlier this week. “He’s going to be a good player. … We watched him last year. He grew over the summer. He came back this year and he was even more dynamic than he was last year. He’s an exciting player.”

    The Canucks, by the way, drafted Swedish center Elias Pettersson with the fifth overall selection.

    Related: Makar makes for a compelling prospect

    Ducks bring Eaves back for three years, reportedly for $9.4M

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    So much for the Anaheim Ducks merely making Patrick Eaves a rental.

    The NHL’s free agent pool got that much shallower on Friday as the Ducks announced a three-year deal for Eaves (during the 2017 NHL Draft, by the way).

    Eaves, 33, carried over strong work with Dallas (21 goals, 37 points in 59 games) to Anaheim after being traded, managing 11 goals and 14 points in 20 regular-season contests. He also managed two goals and two assists in seven postseason games.

    One must also note his bodacious beard.

    The Los Angeles Times’ Curtis Zupke reports that it’s worth $9.4 million overall ($3.15M per year) and the OC Register’s Eric Stephens back that up, detailing the salary breakdown as such: